Forest City National Golf Club: A Gem in Southwest Ontario

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When you’re playing a round at Forest City National, you feel like you’re soaking up the best that Ontario has to offer.

The golf course consists of 275 acres of picturesque land on the shores of Fanshawe Lake, and it’s just a short drive from nearby London, Ontario. Imagine robust pine forests and quaint ravines, and then add in some panoramic views of the lake.

There are some excellent golf opportunities near London, such as FireRock Golf Club, but Forest City National Golf Club would likely have to take the crown for London’s finest public golf course.

You don’t just have to take our world for it either, Forest City was recently awarded a 4.5 star rating from Golf Digest, and noted as one of the “Best Places to Play.”

A Brief History of Forest City National

Forest City National Golf Club was built in 1992 by well-known golf architect Craig Schreiner. What’s notable about him as a course architect is his insistence on ensuring that the golf course fits in seamlessly with the natural surroundings. His courses are all about showcasing what is already there, and not creating something alien in its place.

In fact, he has purportedly visited over 20 different nations purely to understand and appreciate ecology better. He’s noted as saying that, “each golf course must reflect the subtle nuances of nature to distinguish it from all other layouts.”

There are four different tee blocks to play from. For reference, from the Black Tees it’s a pat 72, at a length of 6850 yards, a slope of 133, and a rating of 73.

Since 1992, it’s managed to continue to always be in the conversation for the most prestigious golf course in the area. In fact, we’re sure nobody would bat an eye if you argued it was one of the best golf courses in Ontario.

They’ve hosted many major events over the years, such as the Canadian Tour Ontario Open and the Canadian PGA Championship.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below, we’ll tackle the most frequently asked questions about playing a round at Forest City.

  • Dress Code: You’re required to wear typical golf attire that you’d wear to any Ontario golf course. Basically, collared shirts and mock neck shirts are great, and avoid denim, anything too revealing, or gym attire.
  • Booking Tee Times: You can book online up to 7 days in advance. They have a 24 hour cancellation. Golfers must call +1-519-451-0004 (extension 1) to do so. Any cancellations made due to inclement weather do not need to be made before the 24 hour period.
  • Driving Range & Practice Facilities: The driving range is available to players before their round, and also available for non-green free customers for a fee of 5 dollars for a small bucket and 7 dollars for a large bucket. Forest City National Golf Club also has a putting green with a bunker, and a separate chipping green.
  • Green Fees: As of the time of publishing, rates for “prime season” are $75.23. Rates for seniors (Monday and Tuesdays excluding holidays) is $60, and the “twilight” rate is $53.10. You can also order a preferred players card for $95, and the preferred rate is $61.95, 7 days a week. All prices include a power cart with a GPS.
  • The course is open to hosting tournaments and events. They also are a noted wedding venue in the area.
  • Forest City also has a restaurant on site, Nineteen Restaurant and Patio. You can contact them to see if they’ll be open when you visit next. Typically, they’re open seasonally from 11am to dusk.
  • The course is fully public.

Notable Holes at Forest City National Golf Club

Forest City National Golf Club near London, Ontario
Forest City is nothing if not picturesque. Photo Credit: Christopher Mitchell

Forest City can be challenging, but it’s not a course to be avoided because of it’s inherent difficulty. It’s a course, rather, to be enjoyed.

The course is notable for its variety. Some holes have fairways as wide as can be, and on others you’re going to have your fingers crossed that your tee shot stays straight to make it through the audience of trees on either side.

The greens play fair, though you can expect plenty of sand on the course around the greens. There are, last we counted, about 50 sand traps on the course. We’re a big fan of their double tiered greens.

Water is also a factor on the course, but not overwhelmingly so. A little less than half the holes have water in play, and they’re all, not surprisingly, gorgeous.

Hole #1: “National Debut”

A fitting name for an opening hole, and a design to match.

It’s a lengthy par 5 where your opening drive will be key. It’s a dogleg left, but it shouldn’t be too much trouble for you to make it to the green overall. There’s a lone sand trap on the left about 375 yards from the tee, but other than that it’s smooth sailing, which means it’s a very makable par.

But (and this is a fairly large but), there are 3 sand traps around the green. So on this hole, it’s all about the approach. When in doubt, aim a little left, since the two major traps are on the right side of the green.

Hole #3: “The Gambler”

On hole number 3, you’ll be introduced to your old friend the water hazard. However, it’ll be hard to hate that fact because it makes the hole so damn picturesque.

A wee bit of a dogleg right, and a few sand traps, but most of this hole is about ensuring your tee shot stays left, and then your approach follows suit. For golfers with length in their game, you should be able to be on the green in 2-3 strokes.

But, the hole is called “The Gambler” for a reason. If you’re going for it, you’re risking a date with the sand or the water.

Hole #7: “Bounce Back”

This hole is notable for one reason – you really are going to want to par this based on the two holes that finish out the back nine. Hole 8 and 9 are two of the three hardest holes on the course, so you don’t want to mess up here.

No pressure.

It’s a relatively straightforward par 3 that’s roughly 191 yards to the pin. You’ve got a touch of sand, but nothing crazy. It’s all about keeping that tee shot straight on line, and shooting for the pin. You’re fine if you’re long or short, but just don’t go right or left.

Hole #9: “Gull’s Retreat”

Many holes have some trees strewn about, but on the 9th at Forest City National Golf Course, you’re dealing with downright forest. (Makes sense, based on the name of the course, after all).

On your right side, you’re going to be contending with trees that you do not want to hit your tee shot into.

As long as you can keep things left here, then you’re in good shape. It’s a lengthy hole though, as it’s a 428 yard par 4. So, if you can trust your driver, definitely use that off the tea, and if not go with a lower iron or hybrid.

Hole #12: “Dunverness”

There aren’t many holes in the Ontario golf world with a narrower tee off than Forest City’s 12th hole. You’ll be contending with a narrow opening with trees on both sides until roughly the 150 yard mark.

After the 150 yard mark, it opens up immediately, so most of the challenge around this hole is going to be based around your first shot. If you tend to hit it straight though anyhow off the tee, then you should be okay, but this still comes in as the second hardest hole on the course.

Hole #15: “The National”

The last four holes of Forest City are known among Ontario golfers as arguably the best collection of final holes in the province. And hole 15 may be the jewel in that crown.

We feel comfortable calling this the most memorable hole on the course. There’s a fairway on the left, with a large body of water to the right, and the green on the other side of that water.

That means, in short, that there’s a good chance that your approach is going to be over some water. If you crumble like blue cheese under pressure, then you’re not going to love this one. Well, actually, based on the views you still likely will.

Hole #17: “Little Critter”

Typically, 110 yard par 3s don’t strike fear into the heart of golfers, but this one is unique. In this case, you’re shooting over the trees, so there’s no margin for error.

Now, it’s still technically the easiest hole on the course, but that only applies if you can keep it together on the tee shot. Honestly, it may just be the most fun hole on the course.

That’s a Wrap on Forest City Golf Club

Even in late fall, the course played like a dream. Photo Credit: Christopher Mitchell

If you’re in the London area, why not make time in your schedule to play one of the nicest golf courses in southwest Ontario?

Golf is a game that allows us to take a breath and escape it all for a moment. No matter what is going on, you get to focus on your next shot, and simply appreciate the Ontario outdoors.

At the end of the day, it’s not the score that matters, it’s the memories. And Forest City National Golf Club is a spot where you’re certainly going to be able to form some great memories.

Have you played this Ontario golf course before? What was your experience like? Drop a comment below or head on over to our amazing Ultimate Ontario Facebook Community to share your favourite spots. Don’t forget that we’ve also got a fantastic newsletter on all things Ontario.

Disclosure: We want to thank both London Tourism and the Forest City National Gold Club for hosting us as media for this experience. Please note, our views and words are wholly our own.

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